Review: Ico & Shadow Of The Colossus HD Collection [Part 1]
The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection is a packaged remake of a cult classic (Ico) and huge fan favourite (Shadow of the Colossus) that aims to give the gamers who haven't experienced their magic, a chance to do so. Is this collection greater than the sum of its parts or are you better off sticking with its PS2 counterparts?
- Worth The Time?As it's a great game collection, most definitely
- Things LovedThe innovative gameplay and mechanics are thoroughly satisfying. Some great aesthetic qualities that'll get you believing in the game's premise.
- Things HatedTrying to preserve the experience by keeping the original's shoddy controls is just silly.
- RecommendationShadow of the Colossus HD is a must have for anyone with a PS3 and who hasn't had the opportunity to play something truly unique and emotionally stirring. It's a great addition to any gamer's library and is deserving of its beloved status.
- Name: Ico & Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection
- Genre: Action-Adventure
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: No
- Platforms: PS3
- Developer: Team Ico
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Price: R359
- Reviewed On: PS3
Yeah, I know, this review is a little late… Okay, okay, so it’s a lot late. I actually do have a couple reasons for that, just so you know. Firstly, way too many great titles have been released recently and if I had published this review then, well it’d be like parking a Toyota next to a Ferrari. This review would make more sense to publish now, well ideally even later on when all the major titles have been bought and this review might get some attention. That said, there are already a bucket load of reviews out there already for this collection and if you prefer an inferior read (*cough* someone has a superiority complex *cough*) by all means read them. In fact, if all this review does is remind you that this collection exists and that you’ve already decided to buy it then great.
The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection is well worth the purchase and I guarantee it’ll make a great addition to your collection. And I don’t mean it’ll make a great addition in comparison to that lame game you bought that one time. I mean it’ll still be great sitting next to Skyrim, Gears of War 3, Uncharted 3, Arkham City, Battlefield 3 or MW3. Do you see what I mean by how many good games there are? The other reason for the delayed review was academic work. Academic work is the arch nemesis of most of eGamer’s staff this time of the year and I’m no different. Varsity work involved two massive research projects that completely kicked my ass for the past couple weeks. I’ve barely had time to breathe, never mind writing a decent review for a set of games I really enjoyed. Hey, I said I had two reasons, I didn’t say anything about them being two good reasons.
So, formalities aside, and for any of you out there with a little money to spare, the Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection is a collection of two equally innovative and great but vastly differing gaming experiences. Judging by how long each review is, I think I’m going to have to split them up. It just wouldn’t do them justice to scrunch them up into a page each. Similarly, there’s no way I expect you to read potentially 6 pages worth of review in one go. If you’re only interested in one of the games then this plan will suit you. If you aren’t, well you’re broke anyway so you can wait a day. So that we’re all clear, the Ico half of this review will be up tomorrow. Now, Shadow of the Colossus:
Shadow of the Colossus is a hard game to talk about, it’s one of those games suited to a video review rather than a written one. It’s a very simplistic premise and relies on a few, but relatively deep, mechanics instead of having a whole lot of variety going on. You can see my problem then, say too much and suddenly there’s less reason to play it. Don’t mistake its simplicity for a lack of quality or effort though; Shadow of the Colossus is an awesome gaming experience. First things first, I had never played Shadow of the Colossus before this review, though like everyone else in the universe, I had heard nothing but endless praise for the game. Most of the reviews and comments I haven’t forgotten commended its visuals, unique concept, innovative gameplay and just the sheer magnitude of the colossi. Is colossi the plural for colossus, yeah I guess it is. Anyway, and as you can imagine, I was eager to give the game a bash.
As I played the game, I couldn’t help but recall the comments made about it and compared many of them to what I was experiencing. The first thing that came to mind was the supposed grandeur that was its visuals. As an HD remake from the PS2 era, the game’s visuals obviously won’t compare to its modern contemporaries. Even with its updated textures and higher resolutions, the raw graphics certainly aren’t going to make anyone’s jaw drop. Where the game will make your jaw drop is in the aesthetics, the beauty within the game. It may sound cheesy but every sensual element of the game looks right and fits so well together, soundtrack included. It portrays a certain grand scale, like something you’d see if you were to imagine a desolate Skyrim or Lord of the Rings landscape.
There are huge sprawling backdrops, some great lighting effects, shadows that compliment that devoid of life feeling and a nature that has retaken a formerly civilised land. The colossi are even better; they’re impressively detailed, covered in vegetation as well as just being bewilderingly huge beasts of burden. The audio is perfectly complimentary and I found it sharp and sudden, the sound effects were especially accurate and presented every step, gallop, crunch and roar. Although there was the occasional glitch where the accompanying music is concerned, where it would suddenly vanish for no apparent reason and replay without provocation, when it was there, it set an epic and eerie tone that made me feel a bit uncomfortable.
The next thing I remembered was that Shadow of the Colossus was supposed to be innovative. This being a ‘Team Ico’ game, I’m not at all surprised it’s different and just as equally unsurprised that I enjoyed it a whole lot. So what’s the point of the game and what are these colossus things I’m harping on about? Well just encase you’re unaware, and I doubt you’re without some knowledge of the game, but the colossi are huge encumbered beasts and are the incarnate of idols found in a sacred temple. The protagonist finds himself in the temple where he has been given the task of slaying the colossi if he is to see his tragically dead lover revived. A benevolent being, capable of reviving his lover, has requested the defeat of the colossi in return for reuniting him with said love. I say protagonist but I’m not entirely sure as the colossi seem to be innocent and undeserving of their imminently fatal destiny. They attack only out of defence and die purely so you may revive another.
Perhaps you are the antagonist of the story and this is a mission of greed. It’s all very smartly left to the player’s imagination and as you slay each colossus, you’ll keep questioning just why you’re here and why so many colossi deserve to die to save a single person. It’s all very simplistic in its delivery and maybe I’m reading way too much into this. I’d like to think it was all done on purpose and I enjoyed it that way. So, that’s a tick for being innovative then.
Speaking of which, all this colossus slaying isn’t as easy as you might imagine it to be. The game is actually quite challenging at times and some of the later colossi will require long to-and-fro battles. The point is to stun or manoeuvre yourself so that you can climb onto each colossus long enough to attack its critical spots, thereby killing it. The mechanics and gameplay are simple enough to understand but require quite a bit of finesse to master. The need for finesse comes from my one criticism of the game, its controls are fiddly, generally inappropriate and just don’t fit the rest of the refined experience. The process of fighting and eventually defeating each colossus can be quite complex despite the premise driving it and the wonky controls will be a test of frustration. It’s by no means Dark Souls frustrating or difficult but at the same time, the game won’t throw you any favours.
I don’t mind having to actively grip when jumping and moving about the colossus, but when I have to fight the controls as well as the colossus only to be thrown off and have to climb it all over again, I get understandably annoyed. Don’t get me wrong, the game is certainly worth the frustration and easy to forgive, I just wish the improvements made to this HD upgrade had been extended to the controls. My other issue with the controls is moving around on your horsey. I’d prefer it to be simpler and more intuitive when in reality it’s a bit of chore to get anywhere. Having to constantly tap a button to keep any sort of momentum is more a pain than an experience and the game certainly could’ve learnt from Red Dead Redemption’s attempt at horse riding.
Don’t let all that criticism scare you off though. Shadow of the Colossus is a great game and seeing that first colossus shows just how far ahead it was in terms of scale on the PS2. God of War had the Titans, huge creatures of magnitude and grand proportion. But even the Titans were particularly free of interaction beyond slashing the occasional giant hand. Hell, even in Skyrim nothing is that big. That said, Shadow of the Colossus is extremely satisfying and despite how epic taking down a colossus feels, it’s also accompanied by a genuinely off putting feeling. This much quality derived emotion from one game is a sure fire sign that it’s worth a play. On top of that, and with timed scoring and trophies (a new addition to the game), you’re given just the right amount of challenge and it’ll encourage that much more exploring.